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Why do pupils choose to misbehave?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by katiejanedix, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. I am a student teacher currently completing an assignment looking into what factors influence pupils to misbehave.

    It would be much appreciated if experienced teachers could share their views on why pupils misbehave.
  2. idk


    So many reasons that it's impossible to give a definitive answer. For every 10 students who misbehave there are 10 reasons why. But there is always a reason for behaviour. It's just not always solvable in a big busy school. Just my two pennorth...
  3. Thank you for your reply.
  4. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    I think that if you start from the premis that all children essentially want to learn and want to be liked... you have to look at the reasons for a child to remove themselves from that start point.

    If you had a class full of children who come from settled, happy, supportive homes then the misbehaviour of some children would probably be rooted in boredom. Children like to play, even 15 year old children, and many of the things that they see as 'play' are not compatible with the average classroom... throwing things, making people laugh, drawing funny pictures and generally chatting and laughing.

    If you then look at the average class in a mainstream comprehensive, within each year group there will be a number of children who come from disfunctional homes. We often tend to look to the lower income homes, and predominantly that is where you will find children with the most challenging behaviour, but there are many children who come from what appear to be very supportive, professional families who are also living with very difficult home situations. If your home environment fails to provide you with a stable set of values in relation to what is right and wrong then it's really hard to understand that concept at school, especially when different teachers have different reactions to the behaviour in the room.

    So these enviroments could range from the child of an addict who is essentially the main carer for their younger siblings to the child of a separating couple who give the child conflicting responses in order to curry favour or over compensate for absence.

    Most challenging behaviour from these childen will take the form of attention seeking and my general rule is that a child who seeks attention probably really needs it.

    Imagine if you had to put your drunk mother to bed last night and make tea for your younger brothers. Then you had to make sure their clothes were ready for school the next day, along with your own. You put the kids to bed and try to do your homework, but you're pretty tired and you're worried that your mum might be sick or might not even wake up. You get up in the morning, check on your mum, and get your brothers off to school, having made breakfast, but because you had to walk them to school you end up being late and you didn't have time to wash and iron your shirt. You arrive at your first lesson and get shouted at for being late and not having the correct uniform. I don't know about you but I'd probably explode.

    Equally Imagine if every time your mum said 'No' to something you wanted, you phoned your dad and really b1tched her off... called her every name under the sun and had your dad agree with your every word and sympathise, then they say they'll have a word with mum and sort it out for you. Why would you take a teacher seriously when they said 'No', you just learned that if you go complain to someone else (HoD etc) they will sympathise and help you get your own way and sadly all too often that does happen.

    They need to start to understand what is and isn't acceptable behaviour in the world they are going to be living in and this should colour how you deal with them. One of the biggest mistakes I made very early in my career was to mimic what I recall teachers saying when I was a child, 'Would you speak to your mother like that?' The child looked at me like I was stupid and it dawned on me that not only did he speak to his mother like that but she spoke to him like that! So I began to change the way I challenged poor behaviour.. I would start with, 'Are you aware that it's rude when you do that?' or I might make it more real, 'How would you feel if someone spoke to your mum the way you just spoke to me?'

    Further to this the children who have a less secure home life find the relationships they have at school much more important, therefore being popular becomes more important and as they have less understanding and less reliance on adults, they tend to be more influenced by the reaction of their peers than the responses of the adults around them, so being the class clown or the one who disrespects the teacher gains a huge kudos and satisfies the need to be 'liked'.

    There you go... assignment sorted... lol.
  5. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    I don;t think the default of human nature is to want to learn. The factory setting of character is egoism, blended with learned traits of empathy and altruism in varying degrees. But the desire to achieve one's wants is a leviathan in our hearts. To pretend that children are naturally good, or naturally bad, or naturally good learners, is a fallacy. We're naturally selfish- we seek to obtain that which pleases us.

    With that in mind, children are, like all humans, a broad bunch. I've seen nice kids treat new staff or weak peers appallingly, simply because they could. I've also seen kids from fractured homes act with utmost nobility. What they all share, is the drive ti egoism. With some children, that egoism has been tempered or targeted at the good of others. Some of them, there's a variegated hierarchy of whom one needs to be kind towards, and whom doesn't require it.

    Children misbehave because they want to. Because it satisfies some desire they have. it isn't always (ever?) rationalised, because we don't think with reason alone; we think with our hearts too.

  6. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    I'm not sure that the human character can be so simply explained in that way Tom... and in my experience the poor behaviour of most children is actually rooted in a cause and effect situation... however it often isn't one that is obvious to the outsider and equally not always understood by adult sensibility... it may make sense to the child at the time, it may also be confusing to the child too but very few children I have met simply misbehave because they choose to without an underlying reason... well other than the handful of potential sociopathic children I taught in a secure unit.

    Most children, like adults, want to be liked. When a child behaves in a way that removes them from the 'liked' column there is usually a good reason for their behaviour and the best way to address that behaviour is to listen to the child.

    Put it this way... I suspect that if I had been tested at school I would have been found to have aspects of dyslexia but in those days no one talked about it and teachers would not have recognised it if it hit them in the face... so every week I took a test and failed. Every time I failed the test I was hit witha ruler. I failed every time and I was hit every time. I did not learn my spellings any better for being hit because it was beyond me. I wasn't choosing to 'be bad' but I was treated as though I had and not once did the teacher actually ask me if I had tried to learn the spellings, how I had gone about that, if I had any difficulties in another area of my learning? ... nothing. I was just naughty for not being able to spell words.

    If you assume that a child is choosing to misbehave in accordance with their ego, superego and id then you need to begin your understanding of their psychological make up, how the three elements dominate or retreat, by understanding both their understanding of a given situation and their nurture environment which informed their understanding.

    And not all humans are selfish in nature... it depends, in part, upon both their ability to empathise and a learned understanding of action and consequence.

  7. Hi all following this with interest. My 20+ years experience lead me to think that the key reasons for pupils' poor behaviour sort of boil down to one of, or a combination of

    • boredom
    • lack of boundaries
    • attention seeking (from teachers and/or peers)
    • unrecognised learning difficulties
    • difficult relationships with peers/peer pressure
    • general teenage rebelliousness, a natural boundary-testing time

    Some of the above will be the result of difficulties in other key times/relationships of their lives.

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